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  • Friday, June 02, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Laying the Groundwork for Greener Buildings: The Upshot of Texas’ 85th Legislative Session
    By Anna Clark

    A Q&A with USGBC Texas Advocacy Chair David Matiella, UTSA College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, Co-Founder of Green Money Search.

    David, you’re a full-time professor. How did you get this volunteer advocacy gig?

    I began serving on the advocacy committee in 2003 and eventually gained enough experience to become chair of the statewide committee. I’ve now served in this capacity for the past four sessions. It’s exciting, invigorating and always challenging. I take special joy and pride in getting to facilitate conversations among the best building professionals in the state, and then I bring that knowledge to bear in front of people who make or propose policies to impact the built environment. I take special pride in bringing the message of green building and sustainability to those who create public policy. Communicating the social, environmental, and economic benefits of green building is a passion. We help to communicate the potential of what greener buildings can do for the state of Texas.

    You’ve got a great attitude for a guy who must get disappointed a lot. What about this work gives you hope?

    It’s true that last November's election was a tough pill to swallow for those concerned about environmental issues and sustainability. We see recently that the President intends to signal our departure from the Paris Climate Agreement. This is no positive news. But here in Texas, state legislators have an important task to consider legislative decisions that are best for Texas. Regardless of the disarray in Washington, Texas is poised to chart its own course to a sustainable future with good leadership. Whether these leaders are blue-state or red-state, Texas leaders share a deep sense of responsibility on many issues. More than ever, there is a need for us to work together to devise solutions that will take our built environment in a positive direction to benefit Texans, and to do so in a way that’s environmentally sound.

    How do you begin to design green policies that can withstand this environment?

    As with each session, we started back in August trying to take a temperature of what might come across in terms of green building policy. We assessed the headwinds from the previous year in terms of sustainability for issues at the international, national and local levels, and how these may indicate opportunities for sustainable development.

    When the November election did not result in recognition of the issue of climate change, we felt the need to look as closely as ever before at pragmatic solutions, and to focus on the core competencies of the USGBC and our mission-driven organization. We proceeded to do what we always do: we mobilized our boots on the ground to hold important events in Houston and Dallas - thanks to the hard work of fine advocates from around the state, we learned about our leaders’ legislative priorities. 

    By January we were beginning to have some real conversations about policy proposals. Yet again, we realized that we had the opportunity to reaffirm our non-partisan role, our expertise in the professional community, and to look at what makes sense for Texas at the nexus of social, environmental and economic prosperity. From there, we reached out to offices and constructed a legislative agenda that was finalized ahead of our February 28th Advocacy day at the Capitol.

    What bills ended up on this year’s agenda?

    When we finished the legislative agenda in early February, the bills included:

    I was excited to be part of Advocacy Day in Austin back in February.  As a North Texas Regional Council Director who lives in a LEED-certified home, I wanted to share my voice. I even like to think I made a difference. Is this just wishful thinking or do they really listen to citizens like me?

    Thanks for attending and yes, it’s very valuable when people show up at the Capitol in person. Personal visits are much more valuable than phone calls, although making the calls matters also. No matter what end of the spectrum you’re on, legislators and their aides will listen to you, especially if you are their constituent. Those visits are never superficial.

    We had more than 40 advocates such as yourself attend the training and office visits for Advocacy Day, which created a strong voice for the Texas chapter. For the volunteers who took time to visit with their representative or senator – the importance of that cannot be overstated. At the end of the day, it comes down to people making decisions, and those people care about the interests of voters and taxpayers in their districts.

    What was the outcome of these bills?

    We saw several of the bills that we threw our support behind make it to the Governor’s desk. Anytime that this happens, it’s a big deal. These included SB 59 Filed by Sen. Zaffirini, a bill to support state agencies and higher education institutions. Also signed by the Governor was HB 1571, filed by Rep. Paddie, which will help facilitate energy-saving projects for local governments by expanding applicability of Energy Savings Performance Contracts. We consider these positive steps toward a sustainable future and a greener built environment.

    USGBC Texas plays a significant role because of our efforts. To achieve this, we had an excellent intern Michelle Mendoza, who I leaned on heavily in the organizing role. The advocacy committee themselves gave us great input and work. Advocates in the Gulf Coast region area such as Natalie Goodman helped organize a December legislative meet and greet in Houston. Letter-writing campaigns in the North Texas region were also critical to our momentum.

    What is the accomplishment you are most proud of from this session?

    Critical to our work this session was the formation of the Green Schools Caucus, which is chaired by Representative J.M. Lozano. As a result of his chairmanship, we were able to hold our first meeting of the Green Schools Caucus on May 18, which was attended by several legislative offices including the Speaker’s office.  That same day, Chairman Lozano read House Resolution 2090 on the floor of the House of Representatives to recognize and support Green Schools.

    Our group of five key presenters were recognized including Sangeetha Karthik and Janah St Luce with Corgan & Associates, who presented a case study of the Lady Bird Johnson Middle School. Their presentation helped us take an abstract idea of “green schools” and make it tangible by walking them through its list of net-zero attributes. Mike Dieterich from RISE industries was also present to show case studies of green schools from an operations and maintenance standpoint. Advocacy Advisor Ken Flippin and I were also present.

    What are your next steps?

    Building on our momentum from the Green Schools Caucus and HR 2090, House Resolution in Support of Green Schools, we are developing a list of interim charges that we will give to Senator Lozano’s office. These interim charges will take the form of proposals for studies that examine the effectiveness of high-performing buildings and schools. These interim charges and studies will be effective tools to build legislative measure for the next session.  With these actions, we believe that we are laying the groundwork for important legislation around green buildings and green schools in particular for years to come.

    Do you see schools could be a gateway to better buildings in Texas?

    They certainly have that potential, yes. Schools are important buildings to all of us, and therefore a priority in terms of building improvements in the state. Creating the buildings that educate our kids with better energy efficiency, performance and indoor air quality also translates into a “living lab” for sustainability education, which is essentially STEM education. Teaching our kids about energy use and technologies while giving them the benefit of well-being is a win-win for everyone.

    What do you need from us now?

    Local engagement is something I want to continue with moving forward. We must continue to communicate the immediacy of climate change, the benefits of sustainability, and explain the role that green building has to play as a solution to these complex issues facing humanity. We have to do that to remain effective. There’s an opportunity here for better dialogue from micro to macro. We must recruit new leaders within USGBC and be prepared to lead with our mission-driven organization. Now more than ever, our advocacy work is important at all levels, local, state, and national.

    Each of us has an opportunity to be leaders for sustainability, but we must be willing to do the necessary work to help achieve these goals. More than ever, we need your knowledge, expertise and your work for USGBC here in Texas.

  • Monday, May 08, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Integrative Design
    by Tricia Loe

    There is nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency something that should not be done at all.  – Peter Drucker

    It’s time to take a new look at the way we build green buildings.

    The green building movement has been around for 20 or 25 years, and has (almost) come into the mainstream in many building markets. We’re getting pretty good at it, right? But real breakthrough in the way we build buildings will only come about with changes like using the Integrative Design Process. 

    For example, many people believe that the best way to build a green building is to add new, usually very expensive, features. Some of these “Gucci” options might include high-end mechanicals or expensive green-labeled finishes. However, adding green technology and products is not always the best way to build a green building. In fact, the added expense may prompt the stakeholders to “value engineer” the green features out completely.

    I’m all for new technologies, energy-efficient mechanicals, and sustainably sourced materials. And this strategy is certainly one way to earn a LEED certification. However, in some cases it’s just throwing new features into outmoded building designs. Isn’t it time for a breakthrough in the way we design and build buildings in the first place?

    Let’s imagine the alternative. What if the project team designed the building with an energy-efficient envelope, passive design features, and waste energy recovery? And what if these measures reduced the size of the HVAC equipment needed in the first place? Then the project could afford energy-efficient mechanicals because the equipment needed is not so large.

    What if the project team rethought the way materials were used, creating a building with simpler finishes that were naturally greener and less expensive?

    True Integrative Process takes building systems into account and finds new ways to create buildings. It evaluates the building using new process and tools, early in the design phase, processes and tools that can lead to a better building. The end result is a building that is built right…without skyrocketing costs.

    The Integrative Process will be the topic of our upcoming NTX Sustainable Showcase. We invite you to register for Sustainable Showcase and come learn more about designing and building using the Integrative Design Process. Our workshop presenter will be Bill Reed, founding board member of the US Green Building Council and co-author of “The Integrative Design Guide to Green Building: Redefining the Practice of Sustainability”.

    If you’re looking for a whole new way of looking at sustainable building design and construction, then Sustainable Showcase and the Integrative Design Process can help you get there.

    Interested? Sign up below.

  • Friday, April 07, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    How Can We Combat Climate Change? Education!
    By Mike Brown

    America is in the midst of one of the most profound and rapid societal shifts in history. Today's generation of children is the first to grow up indoors. Their plugged-in lives are largely devoid of exploring the natural world and we are just beginning to understand the ramifications of their virtual world.

    This movement indoors is not benign; there are costs to the health of our children: attention difficulties, hyperactivity, childhood obesity, diminished use of senses, disconnect from things that are real. Additionally, if children are detached from nature, how will they learn about, understand, and value nature? How will the next generation care about the land and be stewards of its resources? Did you know that environmental education can help children perform better in social studies, science, language arts, and math?

    Our children deserve the best education, and with proposed budget cuts to national programs that support energy & water conservation, our mission to promote sustainability is now more important than ever. April is Earth Month and with Earth Day Texas right around the corner we have the opportunity to re-engage the community and local industry professionals about the modern environmental movement; inspiring citizens around the world to demonstrate their commitment to a healthy and sustainable world. One way that the local U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Texas Chapter is doing this is through educational outreach with its Mobile Experience Center (MEC).

    It’s no Tiny Home, but something even better! The Mobile Experience Center is a 24-foot enclosed trailer that includes an interactive multimedia space – so that visitors can actually see, feel, touch and learn about green building design, construction, as well as building operation and maintenance strategies.  Through videos, touch-screen applications, and real-world demonstrations of energy-efficient lighting, appliances and plumbing fixtures, the Mobile Experience Center makes the concept of “sustainability” tangible to thousands of visitors. 

    What’s unique about the Mobile Experience Center is its portability.  It is truly a learning and experience center on wheels.  Instead of inviting groups to come see our green exhibit at a fixed location or even a temporary installation, we are able to bring this learning and experience center to them – whether it’s a tradeshow floor, a street fair, a city building, a public parking lot, or a school playground.  It just takes a few minutes to set up (i.e. -- we position the trailer, extend the entry ramp, flip up the solar panels, and switch on the inverter).  Voila!  An instant green building demonstration platform that’s fun and interactive! Some of these exciting exhibits include:

    • 500W Solar Photovoltaic System by Axiom Solar
    • High Efficiency Plumbing Fixtures by American Standard
    • LED Lighting Panels by RAB Lighting
    • EZ-H20 Water Bottle Filling Station by Elkay
    • Green Cleaning Products (Commercial & Residential) by Staples
    • Car Charging Station by NRG
    • And even insulation made from Recycled Blue Jeans! by Bonded Logic

    Sponsors benefit from creating, developing and enhancing credibility, engaging in highly targeted marketing, leveraging word-of-mouth potential, increase brand recognition, and give back to the community.

    Since the trailer has both residential and commercial products, local business owners can also learn about strategies and equipment that can be used improve their bottom line. Many of our volunteers are engineers, architects or contractors and are knowledgeable about various green building practices and methods for reducing operational costs. Data collected from last year's travels across North Texas estimated that the solar panels generated about 1,300 kWh electrical over the course of the entire year (equivalent to 2,190 miles driven by a car or preventing 1 metric ton of CO2 emissions). Now that the USBGC Texas Chapters are united, the MEC has the potential to travel across the vast state of Texas to various trade shows, conferences, and schools. Upcoming appearances include events like GRO El Paso, the USGBC Texas Energy Summit (Houston), and the North Texas Sustainable Showcase.

    Interested in having the MEC at one of your events, schools, or social? Visit our website here for more details on event requests.

    The MEC is scheduled as an exhibit for this year’s Earth Day Texas event to be held Friday, April 21st – Sunday, April 23rd at Fair Park in Dallas. Event hours are 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. This three-day free event is held in April to celebrate progress, hope, and innovation and is the largest event in the world of its kind. Earth Day Texas brings together environmental organizations, businesses, academic institutions, government agencies, speakers, interactive programming, and subject matter experts along with live music and sustainable beer and food pavilions. Earth Day Texas creates a fun and engaging atmosphere for thought and experiential learning while encouraging attendees to be the change they wish to see in the world. In 2016, Earth Day Texas hosted over 130,000 attendees, 700+ exhibitors and 250+ speakers
    , becoming the largest annual environmental exhibition and programming initiative in the world.


    The MEC not only offers the community an opportunity to learn about existing technologies that conserve water and energy, but it also gives them the tools and resources to apply in their everyday lives. In an era where more and more children are disconnected from nature, USGBC recognizes the importance of making a real investment in environmental education and outdoor learning. Studies have shown environmental education engages students in learning, raising test scores, and encouraging youth to pursue career in environmental and natural resources.

    Teaching the community to become environmental stewards would not be possible without the help of our MEC Leadership Team and dedicated volunteers throughout the year.

    If you would like to volunteer at an upcoming event or join the development of bringing this amazing initiative all together, send a request below. You can also support by following or sharing on social media.

    ·        Like the USGBC Texas Facebook page

    ·        Follow USGBC Texas Twitter

    ·        Follow USGBC Texas on LinkedIn


  • Friday, March 03, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    The Business of Water: North Texas Water Symposium 2017
    By David Rodriguez

    Don't be deceived just because the lakes are full. Water will be an on-going concern for Texas businesses and homes as the population increases and temperatures rise. What do business owners, managers, and homeowners need to know about the current and long-term costs and availability of this quintessential natural resource? Find out on March 29th when USGBC Texas hosts its third annual North Texas Water Symposium.

    This symposium will focus on water security confidence, which the public and private sector need to continue making North Texas a viable place to invest in and conduct business. The intent of the North Texas Water Symposium is to inform and engage the public in dialogue on the state of water in North Texas. This year’s theme is “The Business of Water,“ so speakers will emphasize the business component with its many derivatives.

    Household decision makers and building professionals working with the residential sector will also benefit from understanding the statewide concerns around this critical natural resource that is both renewable and exhaustible.  The average household uses 400 gallons per day for indoor and outdoor domestic uses, spending about $500 annually on water and sewage utility costs. In 2009, it was projected 22% of US households would spend more than 4% of their household income on water and wastewater fees.  

    As water utility rates continue to rise faster than household income, water conservation must increase to improve the economic situation for our nation’s low-income households as well. All stakeholders should be present in order to understand the challenges as well as opportunities that will arise as water issues escalate in importance.

    Event Details
    WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 2017
    Bill Priest Institute, Hoblitzelle Auditorium
    1402 Corinth Street, Dallas, Texas 75215
    9:00 AM - 11:00 AM

    Register Now

    Speakers-to-date include:

    • Sapna Mulki, Director, Water, Hahn Public
    • Jake Spicer, Enterprise Sustainability Manager, DFW Airport

    More speakers coming soon!

    The USGBC Texas has been pleased at the range and depth of water issues explored by the distinguished speakers who have participated in this series. Topics in our water symposium series have included: water stewardship; current historical and future impact of watershed, water quality, and water management issues on North Texas; long-term investment and planning for watersheds and the recent decreasing levels of North Texas reservoir storage; the impact of water on economic development in North Texas; property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing; and various options for water management.

    Previous speakers at our water symposiums have included:

    • Jonathan Radtke, North America Water Resource Manager at Coca-Cola
    • Mike Bastian, Vice President for CH2M Hill and Chairman of the Greater Dallas Planning Council’s Water Task Force
    • Robert Mace,  Texas Water Development Board
    • Jack Tidwell, formerly with North Central Texas Council of Governments
    • Mikel Wilkins , Verdunity Sustainable Design
    • Russell Laughlin, Senior Vice President of Hillwood Properties
    • Frank Bliss, President - Cooper and Stebbins
    • Robert Kent formerly with the North Texas Commission
    • Bech Bruun, Chair- Texas Water Development Board
    • Dr. Andrew Schoolmaster, Dean, AddRan College of Liberal Arts
    • Walter “Buzz” Piskur, Director of Water Utilities, City of Arlington
    • Linda Christie, Community and Government Relations, Tarrant Regional Water District
    • Glenn Clingenpeel , Planning and Environmental Services, Trinity River Authority of Texas  
    • John Robert Carman, Water Director, City of Fort Worth
    • Jay Chapa, City of Fort Worth, Economic Development
    • Lairy Johnson, Environmental Engineer - Miller-Coors
    • Todd Waldvogel, PE, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities & Campus Planning - Texas Christian University
    • Steve Sassman , Water and Energy Conservation Engineer- General Motors
    • Jody Puckett, Director- City of Dallas Water Utilities
    • Frank Crum, former Water Director, City of Fort Worth, Public Infrastructure at Halff Associates

    Any questions? Contact David Rodriguez, Program Chairman, USGBC Texas, Water Symposium Series at

  • Monday, February 06, 2017 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Join USGBC Texas in Austin for Advocacy Day
    By Anna Clark

    The 85th Legislative Session began on January 10th. and advocacy efforts are underway to promote favorable policies for greener building in the Lone Star state. Green building is projected to see positive growth for years to come, with its influence reaching across the U.S. economy and generating significant environmental, economic and social benefits. If you are eager to learn how to encourage your legislators to support sustainable building practices in Texas, join us in Austin for USGBC Texas State Advocacy Day.

    On February 28th volunteer advocates will convene at the Capitol in Austin for an advocacy training session where we will review the Chapter’s advocacy priorities and legislative agenda.  Following this session, attendees will make legislative visits to offices in the Capitol during the afternoon.

    “Instead of walking in with big agenda, we have the advantage of walking in as educators on what can become positive and non-partisan legislation,” said David Matiella, Chair of the USGBC Texas Statewide Advocacy Committee.

    USGBC Texas is also pursuing a Green Schools Caucus during this legislative session and will target several legislators to co-chair this caucus. Green Schools Caucus will center around three pillars of a green school, including 1) reduced environmental impact & costs, 2) improved occupant health & wellness, and 3) effective environmental & sustainability education

    The state’s advocacy efforts complement USGBC National’s legislative priorities, which include:

    •        Government Leadership by example
    •        Private Sector market transformation
    •        Raising the bar on codes and regulations and
    •        Community-wide sustainability

    For details on the Chapter’s priorities for these impact areas, check out the Narrative of Priorities, the Advocacy & Policy section at, and review the 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study.

    To participate in USGBC Advocacy Day, please meet at the Mitte Foundation Carriage House on February 28th at 11:00 am at 1008 West Ave, Austin, TX 78701. The event will conclude with a reception at Google Fiber Space located in downtown Austin at 201 Colorado St., Austin, TX 78701. Representative Mark Strama will speak. RSVP for the event below.

    For information, contact

    RSVP for Advocacy

  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 3:00 PM | Deleted user

    U.S. Green Building Council Announces Texas is

    10th State in the Nation for LEED Green Building in 2016

    Washington, D.C. — (Jan 25, 2017) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its national ranking of the top states in the country for LEED green building and Texas is the 10th state in the nation for 2016.  The annual list highlights states throughout the country that made significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation over the past year.  With a total of 211 LEED certified projects representing 1.67 square feet of certified space per resident, Texas is leading the charge in the green building movement in the United States.

    “Texas has been a phenomenal trailblazer in green building and LEED certifications and is leading the way toward a more sustainable future for generations to come,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. “The success of LEED could not happen without support from states likes Texas that believe in being environmentally and socially responsible and have committed to transforming the built environment. With each new LEED certification, we are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment, driving economic growth and prioritizing sustainable practices that will positively impact the way residents, communities and cities live, work and play.”

    According to USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, LEED construction is expected to support 244,000 jobs and impact GDP by $21.39 billion from 2015- 2018 in Texas.

    “Our ranking in the Top 10 States for LEED shows the continued success of the green building market in Texas,” said Jonathan Kraatz, executive director of USGBC – Texas Chapter. “Companies and business owners across the state have embraced LEED and green building practices in all sectors from a fiscally — as well as socially — responsible perspective, and are realizing the benefits of LEED on both their occupants and facilities. We’ve made a great start and look forward to continuing our work creating prosperous sustainable built environment that improves life for all Texans."

    Now in its seventh year, the ranking assesses the total square feet of LEED-certified space per resident based on U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects certified during 2016. The full ranking is as follows:

    2016 Top 10 State for LEED



    Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF)

    Per-capita Certified GSF

    Total No. Projects
























































    *Included in 2015 Top 10 States for LEED list
    **Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state

    A few notable projects that certified in Texas in 2016 include:  

    •    Skanska West Memorial Place Phase I in Houston; LEED Platinum
    •    Bank of America Plaza 901 Main in Dallas; LEED Gold
    •    Baylor Medical Waxahachie; LEED Silver

    Collectively, 1,819 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification within the Top 10 States for LEED in 2016, representing 309.12 gross square feet of real estate. Across the United States, 3,366 projects were certified in 2016, representing 470.39 million square feet.

    The LEED green building certification system is the foremost program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings. More than 59,000 commercial, neighborhood and residential projects are currently LEED certified, comprising more than 6 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states in the U.S. and in more than 164 countries and territories globally. 

  • Thursday, November 17, 2016 2:00 PM | Deleted user

    What an exciting time it is to be a part of our USGBC Texas community! One of the key opportunities for Chapter members in guiding USGBC Texas' strategic direction is with the nomination and election of the 2017 Regional Councils.

    The Election will be open from December 1 - December 14, 2016. Voting is conducted online and only members of the Chapter may vote. Chapter Members will receive an invitation to vote via the e-mail on record - login to ensure your e-mail is up-to-date or e-mail for assistance.

    Not a member of the Chapter? Join or renew here.

    Below are your candidates for the 2017 Regional Councils.


    Debby Moore Baker

    Vice President of Sales

    Moore Disposal Corporation & 
    Moore Recycling Incorporated

    Susan Flanagan
    , LEED AP ID+C
    Southwest Regional Manager
    Solatube, International

    Brandon Kenney
    Vice President
    Fischer & Company

    Tricia Loe

    Sustainable Concepts, LLC


    Brent Farrell

    Founder & Owner
    ReCraft Construction Services, LLC

    Tim Murray

    Sustainable Design Leader
    EYP, Inc.

    Maria Perez
    , AIA, LEED Fellow

    Kapil Upadhyaya
    Senior Associate/Building Performance Analyst
    Kirksey Architecture


    Andrew Clements

    Lisa Storer

    Project Manager
    Benz Resource Group

    Andre Suissa, MAI
    Titan Commercial Valuation, LLC

    Amy Tasch
    , LEED AP ID+C
    Treehouse, Inc
    Assistant Store Director

    Allison Wilson
    Ayers Saint Gross


    Lauren Baldwin

    Sustainability Program Specialist
    City of El Paso

    Nicole Ferrini
    Chief Resilience Officer
    City of El Paso

    Ryan Green

    Seeing Green Sales & Consulting, Inc.

    Thea Gudonis

    Solar City

    Joseph Riccillo
    Sundt Construction


    Michael Britt
    Project Architect
    Lake Flato Architects

    John Sullivan
    Architectural Specifier
    InterCeramic USA

  • Friday, November 04, 2016 8:00 AM | Deleted user

    Greenbuild is the most exciting week of the year for USGBC when industry professionals converge to share ideas and celebrate the accomplishments of the past year. This year, members of the green building community and beyond gathered in Los Angeles, California on October 5-7 for the industry’s premier event. 

    Didn’t have the opportunity to attend Grenbuild 2016? Check out the recaps from your fellow Texas Chapter members below, from first-time Greenbuild newbies to Emerging Professionals to seasoned conference goers.

    "The two big USGBC announcements from Greenbuild were the "arc" platform that bridges all the GBCI certifications using big data and LEED for Cities (no details yet!). The expo was as informative as ever and featured several tiny houses. The two big electrochromic glazing competitors tried to outdo each other with View offering a virtual product experience at their booth while Sage glass gave tours of the 71 Above restaurant outfitted with their product in L.A.'s tallest building. The educational sessions were decidedly more technical than in the past and I left each one with new ideas and tools to implement them. I took two tours that were uniquely L.A.. The first showed the polar opposites of the Hollywood neighborhood with a new housing project for homeless and then a Class A+ residential tower incorporating historical buildings of the old CBS radio / TV studio. That tour ended at Morphosis' Emerson College, a dorm and classroom building for the student's L.A. internships, overlooking the Hollywood sign. The second tour was of UCLA with its 30 LEED certified projects on campus and its system wide goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. Keynote Speakers Bjarke Ingels shared his latest projects while Sebastian Junger told us of war-time loyalties that tapped into our instinctive need for tribal belonging and how these groups can make true change possible. Fun was had too, from Pokemon hunting on Santa Monica Pier to Celebration performances by X Ambassadors and Aloe Blacc." - Tim Murray, USGBC Texas Board of Directors - Secretary

    "When I first learned about Greenbuild, it was described to me as “Disney World for people in our industry”. It most definitely did not disappoint.

    My Greenbuild days looked like this: I reached my daily 10,000 step goal by lunchtime, jumped from one interesting education session to another learning about what new projects and technologies are changing our industry, and was exposed to the most innovative green products on today’s market. However, as amazing as all that was, what really made it “Disney World” for me was being surrounded by thousands of people who genuinely cared about the environment, interacting with leaders that were paving the way so we could all make a difference, and having the opportunity to collaborate and share ideas across all areas of sustainable design." - Marianna Verlage, First Time Greenbuild Attendee

    "It was great to attend Greenbuild this year in LA. I always enjoying going to Greenbuild to see new sustainable and innovate products, attending great educational sessions and networking with other sustainable leaders from around the world!

    This year, I noticed a continued emphasis on Health and Wellness. We are still learning just how important our buildings and spaces can have a big impact on human health.  We need to focus on improving the environment that we live in." - Chris Mundell, North Texas Regional Council - Chairman

    "Greenbuild this year offered a lot of LEED v4 informational sessions.  There was concern expressed by many conference attendees about how project teams will handle the new challenges and how the market will accept the new standards.  There was also a subtle transition in the USGBC’s vision and focus with a new CEO taking over for Rick Fedrizzi, Mahesh Ramanujam.  Mahesh gave an official acceptance speech at the Closing Plenary session where he expressed concerns about growing social issues facing the world.  He originally comes from India and is personally touched by the extreme poverty many people live in and the unequal access to sustainable living environments.  I think in the future we’re going to see a lot more advocacy for gripping social issues from the USGBC… or at least more edgier Master Speaker Sessions at Greenbuild!" Courtney Brinegar, ADVANCE Ambassador

    Thank you, Los Angeles – it was definitely an Iconic Green event! For those of you who missed out this year, mark your calendars for Greenbuild 2017 in Boston on November 8-10, 2017.

    Did you attend Greenbuild 2016? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below! (You must be logged in to leave a comment).

  • Monday, October 10, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    A Green Apple for Our Teachers
    by Stacia Peese

    September has passed and our children are settling in for another year of reading, writing and arithmetic.

    The past several months, I’ve been learning about challenges and opportunities in the education community. How are the students being prepared for the 21st century? What type of tools do they need? How are facilities supporting these progressive learning styles? And how can we pay for it all?  Each of these questions has complex answers. In this blog post, I’m focusing on the maintenance and operation numbers.

    This past spring, USGBC’s Center for Green Schools released a study entitled State of Our Schools: America’s K-12 Facilities. The study highlights that many of our school facilities are struggling to provide 21st learning environments because many essential maintenance and capital improvement programs are underfunded.    

    According to the study, on every school day, nearly 50 million students and 6 million adults occupy close to 100,000 buildings. This equates to an estimated 7.5 billion gross square feet and 2 million acres of land. That’s huge! In fact, state and local governments invest more capital in K-12 public school facilities than in any other infrastructure sector outside of the highways. 

    Nationally, between the years of 1994-2013, states and districts spent a total of $925 billion in 2014 dollars on maintenance and operations (M&O), including: daily cleaning, grounds keeping maintenance, utilities, and security of facilities.  This averages to $46 billion per year over those 20 years. In order to keep pace with the projected increase in student enrollment from 2012-2024, M&O spending will need to increase another by another $8M. 

    In 2013, Texas K-12 Public School facilities consisted of 8,731 schools amounting to 602 million gross square feet. Enrollment was set at 4,897,523.  In the period from 1994-2013, Texas public school districts spent $4,598M maintaining and operating its facilities. That is roughly 11% of their total operating funds. The study stated that based on historic rates of spending, the State of Texas will need to increase its spend an additional $2M per year to accommodate the additional 688,641 students projected to enroll in classes between 2012 and 2024. Most of that increase will go toward capital construction and new facilities as Texas’ historic spending on M&O is above the National average.  Since the study was conducted, this may be a challenge to maintain with the declining oil and gas revenues that have been enjoyed by the State. 

    The report’s executive summary provides four key strategies for addressing our challenges.

    1) Understand your community’s public school facilities.
    A key requirement is to have better data on public school infrastructure.
    2) Engage in education facilities planning.
    Education leaders must communicate to the general public the value of safer and healthier environments for learning. Provide a plan.
    3) Support new public funding.  
    Relying primarily on local property taxes will not allow for improvements.  We need to be creative not only on state and local levels.  We need to explore, too, how the federal government may assist. 
    4) “Finally, leverage public and private resources in new ways to assist states and districts in providing healthy, safe, educationally appropriate and environmentally responsible facilities for their communities.” 

    Practicing sustainability in schools can make a big impact in managing our maintenance and operations resources.  A few activities that fall within these categories include daily cleaning, campus waste audits, grounds-keeping, campus beautification, security and school lighting.

    If an educator is interested in going green or know of one that you would like to support, consider the Green Apple Day of Service, a global movement to put all children in schools where they have clean and healthy air to breathe, where energy and resources are conserved, and where they can be inspired to dream of a brighter future. Events can be hosted year round. To plan an event, visit:

    May we always learn new things in order to better support ourselves in the future.  May we always have an environment available to test new skills and theories. That’s what I’m doing here with my first ever blog post as a proud Regional Council member of USGBC Texas, whose mission is to educate all Texans about the benefits of sustainable building. 

    School is never out for the pro, so if you’re interested in opportunities to grow and learn in sustainability, join us!  Here’s how:

    Stacia Peese, LEED AP
    Staples Business Advantage

  • Friday, September 02, 2016 9:00 AM | Deleted user

    Catalyzing Urban Resilience in American Cities
    by Anna Clark

    Resilience, a new paradigm for urban planning, green building, and community development, was the subject of the 2016 North Texas Sustainable Showcase, an annual conference hosted by USGBC Texas and other sponsors. The event introduced professionals from every facet of the building sector to elements of urban resilience, a term that both includes and transcends sustainability.

    “Resilience is the preservation of communities through ongoing planning for the capacity to learn, adapt, and change in the face of present-day and future threats, both predictable and unknown,“ said Z Smith, principal and director of sustainability and building performance for New Orleans-based design studio Eskew+Dumez+Ripple.

    From left to right: Keynote Speaker Z Smith, North Texas Regional Council Member Norma Lehman, Keynote Speaker Betsy del Monte. 

    Smith used the example of the New York City’s subway system to illustrate the importance of planning for resilience. It had been “designed to withstand all sorts of events” but Hurricane Sandy, which it might have otherwise survived, “proved too much,” said Smith.

    Juxtaposing the example of an urban system being compromised by an immediate blow, Showcase speakers shared other examples that illustrated the cascading consequences of slow deterioration of infrastructure in the face of rising water, heat, and socio-economic pressures.

    “Things can chronically weaken you over time until you just can’t go on anymore,” said El Paso’s Chief Resilience Officer Nicole Ferrini during her presentation on urban resilience.

    Ferrini defines “city resilience” as the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions and businesses within a city to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks they may experience.  

    As a desert city, El Paso faces consequences of increasing heat; the city experienced four heat-related deaths during this summer. On the positive side, El Paso aims to use its unique circumstances to develop a path for other cities. 

    “El Paso wants to establish the value of a ‘desert ecosystem’,” said Nicole Ferrini.

    In Dallas, chronic stress not only involves increasing heat, but also increasing inequality. According to the analysis from the Urban Institute, which examined inequality within commuting zones (defined as portions of several counties that make up metropolitan areas), Dallas posted the largest neighborhood disparity among commuting zones with at least 250,000 residents.

    “We have a $52 billion health care industry in North Texas, but we have the highest rate of uninsured people,” said Dallas’ Chief Resilience Officer Theresa O’Donnell. Alongside her efforts to bolster the built environment, O’Donnell is emphasizing inclusive economic development in Dallas’ roadmap to resilience. 

    The emphasis in inclusion will also enable the City of Dallas to leverage the support of similarly-aligned civic organizations that are tackling this issue, such as the Inclusive DFW Consortium, a multi-stakeholder community under development with the SMU Hunt Institute for Engineering and Humanity.

    While cities in Texas may seem like underdogs compared to sustainability heavyweights such as San Francisco and New York City, as members of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100RC network, Ferrini and O’Donnell have a track to run on in their race to resilience. The City Resilience Framework provides a lens to understand the complexity of cities and the drivers that contribute to their resilience.

    “Looking at resilience nationally, we see each threat is different but themes are the same,” said Smith. He acknowledged that in some American cities, resilience is not about achieving recognition so much as survival.

    “New Orleans one day may be like Venice, a historic city surrounded by open water,” said Smith.  Fortunately, since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the city has made some phenomenal green achievements.

    Referencing leading-edge projects such as the BioInnovation Center, Smith explained that his team’s work in New Orleans “draws on ideas from around the country and around the world.” (Download the Resilient New Orleans Strategy here.)

    Recalling that jazz was invented in New Orleans by drawing on ideas from other places and combining them in original ways, Smith added, “Everyone working in resilience has to improvise, but that improvisation can produce beautiful results.”

    Strengthening communities with social resilience

    While cities often approach resilience to address their most pressing needs, those that are proactive can enjoy what Smith calls the “resilience benefit,” which encapsulates the health, wellness, and financial benefits that accompany efforts toward climate change adaptation, disaster preparedness, and economic inclusivity.

    Accounting for the social side of the urban resilience movement, the conference concluded with a stakeholder experience led by Betsy del Monte, FAIA, LEED BD+C, and Jim Newman, LEED AP O+M and principal at Linnean Solutions.

    “True engagement comes from co-creating efforts with all stakeholders affected,” said Newman. “Our regenerative development approach is to work with communities to create solutions that are aligned with their environmental, social and economic goals and needs as well as the overall resilience framework of the city.”

    Attendees participate in roundtable discussions at North Texas Sustainable Showcase.

    As those of us experienced in the workshop, Newman’s approach is to insert people and their experiences into the conversation as a key driver for resilient infrastructure planning, Presenting alongside del Monte, Newman explained their belief in the importance of integrating stakeholder input into solutions. Their presentation expressed a happy confluence of regenerative development training, a design competition aimed at dealing with sea-level rise, and a vision for more humane urban development.

    “Betsy and my belief is that we must bring actual people deeply into the planning process so that Dallas can not just survive, but thrive with climate change.” Newman added, “Once we accept these goals, then the question is, ‘How can we affect the most people and do the greatest amount of good?’ This is where our approach to using press and engaging communities gains real power. These tools are available to everyone.”

    The 2016 Sustainable Showcase speakers exemplify the caliber of ideas, expertise, and tools that are available to USGBC members and attendees at events. For more information on the Chapter’s events throughout Texas, visit the Events Calendar on the website:

    About Anna Clark

    Anna Clark is the president of EarthPeople Media, a strategic communication firm serving start-ups, mid-sized enterprises, Fortune 500s and NGOs. An independent journalist on sustainability and social innovation, Anna’s voice has appeared in Huffington Post,, Guardian Sustainable Business, Al Jazeera English, The Christian Science Monitor and The Dallas Morning News.

USGBC Texas Chapter is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 1801 Royal Lane, Suite 400, Dallas, TX 75229

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